Why is Trump Tweeting More Now than During his Election Campaign?
Foreign Correspondent in Brussels, Georgia Shepherd, takes an outside look into Trump’s Presidency and his non-stop media strategy.
As Trump nears the end of this third year in the Oval Office, there’s no sign that he’s slowing down. His immigration policy is becoming increasingly set-in-stone, the trade war with China remains fierce and tensions with Iran are at an all-time high. Accompanying these conundrums are his relentless, at times nonsensical, tweets – which aren’t becoming any less frequent either. In fact, Trump is tweeting more now than he was during his 2016 election campaign. Not only is he tweeting more frequently, his campaign rallies are longer too. Somewhat surprisingly, Trump has also been interacting more with the media too – before his flights he’s been conversing with reporters for more lengthy time periods. It doesn’t even stop there – he has been on camera an average of 25 minutes more per week than this time last year. But what does this mean?
Of course, by tweeting, talking and being more visible, his views gain greater currency.
It seems that, as Trump gets more comfortable in the Oval Office, he’s less sceptical of well and truly speaking his mind. His increased presence, both on Twitter and on main news channels, seems to chime with his removal of cabinet members and political advisers – who reportedly encouraged the President to constrain his more radical views. Now, Trump has filtered out a new group of associates, who are intervening less with his in-the-moment interactions – hence the more-or-less constant, unfiltered activity. Is this the real Trump revealed?
Trump and his Tweets
At the start of his Presidency in 2017 he was tweeting on average 44 times per week, which dramatically rose to 83 per week in the early weeks of 2019 – a substantial increase of 91%. Trump is also keeping his twitter profile very active through retweeting more. This year he’s averaged around 38 retweets per week; a huge boost of 326% from his six retweets a week in 2017. This escalation of Trump’s often radical tweets seems to bait America’s polarised political climate. One way this manifests is through his supporters largely refusing to condemn any of the President’s controversial content – even if it has been critiqued for racial, misogynistic or extremist reasons. Meanwhile, the opposition are becoming increasingly irritated by these uncensored opinions, believing Trump’s actions abuse his power as President and result in further hatred and deeper divisions. Considering Trump’s tweets are definitely not slowing down, it seems there is no indication of a calm to America’s political storm any time soon.
Back in 2017 Trump’s rally speeches lasted just under an hour at 59 minutes, they then averaged to an 1 hour 5 minutes in 2018. So far this year they’ve averaged 82 minutes – a 26% increase from 2018. It’s interesting to note that seven of Trump’s rallies this year now feature in his top ten longest rallies as President. Trump’s longest rally was held in New Mexico and lasted 1 hour 35 minutes – this was followed by his North Carolina campaign rally and then his rally in New Hampshire. One reason behind the recent upsurge in Trump’s speech time is likely that he’s no longer campaigning for mid-term elections. Consequently, his speeches are no longer constrained by travel requirements that took place during the mania of the multi-state, multi-rally weeks back in 2018. Nevertheless the surge is intriguing and suggests the President is by no means becoming less confident in his opinions as his term progresses.
A Spike in Camera Time
Through the second week of this September, Trump averaged 2 hours 37 minutes of camera time – it must be noted that this naturally excludes newspaper interviews which weren’t videotaped. This calculates to be 25 minutes additional chatter than in September 2018 and 55 minutes more than in 2017 – a substantial increase of 54%. Again, this rise in camera time emphasises how Trump is determined to be incredibly visible on all public platforms; in this way, he can publicise and advocate his policies, while batting off criticism from all sides.
More ‘Chopper Talk’
The phrase ‘chopper talk’ was coined by late night CBS host Stephen Colbert, due to Trump’s interaction with journalists before he boarded helicopter on Marine One. Back in 2018, these exchanges averaged 7 minutes 5 seconds, but has now accelerated to an average of 12 minutes 37 seconds; accounting for a huge increase of 78%. Similarly, this theatrical means of interaction most likely correlates with the rise in @realdonaldtrump’s tweets, rallies and video time; it seems to be a coordinated effort by the President to echo his views and policies as widely as possible.
The Effects of Trump’s Strategy
Trump’s media strategy symbolises our entering a new era, where communication written by the President directly via Twitter is overriding daily briefings from the White House Press Secretary. Behind this change, there are of course consequences. One of which is that it seems the more Trump talks, the greater the number of false claims he makes; it is alleged that initially, the President took 343 days to make 1000 false claims, but recently he took just 197 days to make another 1000 false comments.
As Trump’s tweets and rallies continue to fulfil his ambition of publicising his views in the front pages and across media platforms, in Trump’s eyes there’s no rational reason why he’d change his strategy. Of course, by tweeting, talking and being more visible, his views gain greater currency. Interestingly, a number of world media outlets are openly criticising the President’s extra-normal claims and methods; most recently, the BBC’s Naga Munchetty condemned of Trump of profound racism.
Trump shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, let alone stopping his all-out strategy. In the forthcoming year, and potentially longer, we can expect Trump to become even more visible and active in the media. With the run-up to the 2020 Presidential election looming, we can only imagine how many of Trump’s tweets, rallies and quotes will make the headlines. Remarkably for the Trump Presidency, this former businessman has managed to make the extra-normal normal in American politics.